Skip to main content

MHFA for the Older Person


Course under development

MHFA Australia is developing a 12-hour face-to-face MHFA for the Older Person Course for families and carers, because good mental health is an important factor in facilitating senior Australians to live full, active and healthy lives. In older age, mental illnesses can particularly occur in association with physical illnesses, loss of independence, bereavement and brain changes that occur with ageing. Unfortunately, Australian males aged 80+ are one of the highest risk groups for suicide. Confusion and dementia are much more common in older people, but they are not a normal part of ageing. The percentage of people affected by dementia rises with age. It affects 3% of people aged 65-74 years, 10% of those 75-84 years, and 30% of those aged 85 or over.

However, mental health problems are under-diagnosed and under-treated in this population, often misattributed to ageing or poor physical health. Stigma and poor mental health literacy in family and carers of older Australians are likely to contribute to the lack of supportive interactions, diagnosis and treatment of mental health problems.

The aim of our Mental Health First Aid for the Older Person Course is to train the community to respond appropriately as early as possible to older people with mental health problems, rather than wait for a mental health crisis before taking action.

MHFA Australia has undertaken a Delphi study to develop guidelines for how family and carers can help a confused older person. Read the guidelines here.

The information in these guidelines will help to guide some of the curriculum in this new course. We have completed the writing of the manual to accompany the Mental Health First Aid for the Older Person Course and with a kind donation from Lendlease, we have completed 2 short scripted drama videos to accompany this course. Writing of the teaching materials for this 12-hour course (4 sessions of 3 hours each) has commenced, and we hope to launch and pilot this course well before the middle of 2017.